A Metaphorical Slap for FIAC

It is the International Contemporary Art Fair (FIAC) director and the city officials who instigated this installation who should be metaphorically slapped for this preposterous display.

TREE-UP_3077382cThe artist’s rationalization is glib at best and demonstrates the banality of his pseudo intellectual proposition.  That McCarthy thinks that simply declaring the work an “abstraction” absolves him of any accountability for the work’s obvious iconic narrative is utterly disingenuous.  To assert that the subject is ambiguous is ridiculous. It is a portrait of a butt plug plain and simple and coloring it green doesn’t make it a Christmas tree anymore than painting an American flag on its side would make it a space capsule.  Yes, the commercialism of Christmas is tragic, but McCarthy’s Christmas themed works are simply another form of this commercial exploitation and all his sanctimonious rhetoric amounts to an insufficient merkin to conceal this fact.

McCarthy’s proposition in transgressive art is to test the limits of the emotional tolerance of his audience.  In this case he seems to have exceeded that limit, probably to his own satisfaction, if not to the satisfaction of those forced to be subjects of his sadistic social experiment masquerading as art. He has a history that indicates a perhaps unhealthy anal fixation, which although it may be his prerogative, doesn’t necessarily mean that the rest of us are obligated to view his obsession as a particularly appealing spectator sport.  McCarthy claims to seek to undermine the “myth of artistic greatness” and the heroic character of the male artist.  In this regard he might have unintentionally and somewhat ironically succeeded.  Yet one cannot avoid the evident monument to the male ego and the cult of the identity of the artist that this installation inherently invokes. The fact that this artist’s imagery is more anal than phallic doesn’t obfuscate its intrinsically masculine perspective. One could not imagine even the most provocatively avant guard feminist sculptor creating such an image in such heroic scale.

TREE-DOWN_3077383bPaul McCarthy’s work is adolescently provocative and redundant, stylistically derivative and unimaginative, obvious and unclever.  His rhetorical rationalization centers around a critique of commercialism but what could be more commercial in its aesthetic?  Not all self-contradiction indicates an interesting paradox.  The whole thing smacks of self-promotion and a PR stunt. It is a marketing ploy and no amount of fatuous art speak and disingenuous anti-capitalist rhetoric can get around this fact nor can it absolve McCarthy of the obvious hypocrisy of the artist’s alleged social commentary as an implausible justification for making a grandiose butt joke.

The French must be desperate to appear culturally relevant if they feel they must pander to an American commercial pseudo-pop aesthetic in a pathetic attempt to be hip.  It is bad enough that the French had to come to America to find what they mistook to be a relevant contemporary artist whose greatest claims to fame are a turd that blew away and shoving a Barbie up his own ass.  It is just sad that they think that a 67 year old man telling tired fart jokes from the ’70’s fits the bill for what constitutes contemporary cultural relevance. Yet another example of Baby-boomers mistaking nostalgia for their lost adolescence with genuine “contemporary” aesthetics.  This stuff doesn’t represent contemporary art any more than Henny Yougman telling Catskills’ jokes represents contemporary humor.  If this is the best FIAC could come up with, then France should be ashamed indeed.